Good practices in digital citizenship. The ‘Your Digital Life’ project
|Your Digital Life|
FEDAC PRATS. Prats de Lluçanès-Cataluña
|Cèlia Soldevilla Vall|
|Italy, Greece, Spain, Macedonia, Romania, Poland, Georgia and Turkey|
|Spanish language, English, Social Sciences, ICT|
|National Quality Label|
This is a project designed to investigate the impact of technology on children’s actions, ways of thinking and life styles. It is also meant to raise awareness on the protection of student privacy and information on the Internet; the project focuses on the use of technology in education and in everyday life. It was designed to improve and foster digital and communicative competences, and, above all, to make children play the leading role in the project.
This project has been innovative and encouraging for the involved students in many aspects, among which the most notable ones have been working in a collaborative way in small groups, fostering creativity and various debates on the main issue of the project, using new ICT tools, and communicating by means of videoconferencing and chat all along the implementation of the project. They worked with different web 2.0 tools such as Kizoa, Power Point, Emaze, Taxgedo, Padlet, Issu, Collage, Little birdtales, Picturetrail; their eTwinning partners also introduced them to new tools such as Powtown, Voki, Chartgo and others. Students were particularly excited about the collaborative tools that eTwinning Live offers: the chat (used in the project implementation), videoconferencing (Closing Party), and collaborative drawing (sharing the eTwinningLive blackboard). Google Drive online forms were used to pass on questionnaires to families, teachers, and students in order to evaluate the work done in the project. Creativity was promoted in all activities, and we fostered the imagination and participation of all our students.
Link to TwinSpace
The project results, videos, presentations, and other materials can be seen in the different TwinSpace pages and in the Project Diary. https://twinspace.etwinning.net/18324/home
Project follow-up blog for the educational community, mostly for the families: http://blocs.xtec.cat/yourdigitallife
School web page where one can see that we are an eTwinning school. These are the links to the project blog, the school Facebook page and the Twitter which have been used to disseminate the project: http://www.fedac.cat/prats/
Our objective was to get to know our students’ digital competences and develop them, not only as a teaching, learning, and communicating tool, but also as tool meant to help teachers and parents understand what children should know about this topic. For instance, how to use technology in a proper and safe way and how to become aware of how human beings depend on it.
1) How did the idea of this project arise?
When I became involved in the Your digital life, the project had already been approved. It was after the Taller eTwinning school training that I decided to get involved in the project. Therefore, I am a beginner in this fantastic programme.
I searched information on the different projects, but my mind was already set up on participating in a project that focused on Information and Communication Technologies. And I found Your digital life, a fantastic project that included all the ideas I had.B
Even though the founders of the project had already planned it out, I brought new ideas and proposals to the table and made sure that the project implementation was a consensus at all times. Some of my ideas included carrying out chats, videoconferences, Quizziz, collaborative drawing, etc. I was also in charge of putting together How technology influences our lives, Privacy on the internet and the ups and downs of digital life, Using technology in everyday teaching, work done by all the partners. All of my contributions are summarized in an image with different links which was done using Thinglink.
2) Activities envisaged to educate students as digital citizens (responsable use of devices and of the Internet, guidelines of online behaviour – especially of social networks- with regards to users and their rights and responsibilities in an online environment)
All the activities that were proposed on the TwinSpace were designed to educate children to be digital citizens by promoting the responsible use of all the tools we were working with.
The first step we took was to give the students a user name for the TwinSpace. They were in charge of creating a set of norms on what was allowed and what was not; there was obviously a section that addressed the consequences of not following the rules. The outcome was reasonable and it included things that the students were convinced about.
Next, the first real activity we carried out on the TwinSpace was the student presentation done by using Littlebirdtales, which is a fantastic web that allows students to upload their photos, write a description about themselves, and record their voices. This activity was the starting point for a classroom debate on uploading photos on the Internet and make them public so that anyone can see them, on what kind of photos we post and where we do it, etc.; it was a long debate which was also forwarded to the students’ families to continue at home. It was very interesting.
The following activity was designed to make the students aware of the number of hours they spend in front of all technological devices (mobile phone, tablets, computers, television, etc.). They chose the tool to present the information; they used graphs which lead to a new debate on the number of hours they spend in front of digital devices throughout the week.
The third activity that we carried out was about safety rules on the Internet and we created a fantastic PowerPoint about it. We had previously searched information on different webs and we found a lot of information to use to work on and to develop our rules on http://internetsegura.cat/ . We supplemented that information with different videos on safe Internet which we saw and commented on in the classroom.
We dedicated the forth activity to analyze our environment and the technological tools we use in the classroom. We assessed the tools we had and analyzed the way we used them and proposed new ways of using them; we also presented the tools that we thought were missing from the classroom and described how we could us them.
In addition to participating in the planned project activities, we also worked on articles and videos that enabled us to use our critical and reflective thinking.
3) Activities envisaged/carried out in order to foster critical thinking and reflection in the Internet and social media context.
We carried out a great number of activities; some of them were more educational, while others were meant to foster critical and reflective thinking. We searched various videos, news, conferences, and other types of resources which enabled us to compile different points of view on the addressed topics.
Students were very impressed when they found out that a simple photo posted on a social network or in a chat can cause many problems because the photos can be passed on from one user to another without the consent of the person concerned. This was shocking to them.
We commented on different newspaper articles and radio or TV news and after a critical reflection on how certain people misuse and overuse images, the students realized that they sometimes misuse images or that they are sometimes too trustful and naïve.
Personally, I value the time we dedicated to reflection the most because it helped the children become aware of the possible risks they may be exposed to and the ways to prevent them.
4) What was the role played by the school/the teaching staff/the teachers in the project designed to educate students to become part of a responsible citizenship? (for instance showing them how to prevent risks related to the publication of personal information in comments, etc.)
Even though the project involved year four students, all the teaching staff knew about our activities and they brought new ideas to the table and analyzed them; they also interacted with the students on the subject. Digital citizenship and the boundaries of the digital world is a topical issue that concerns teachers as well as parents.
The school played an essential part in the implementation of this project; we couldn’t have been able to carry it out without the school’s approval and support.
Thanks to all the parties involved, we managed to carry out a project that reflects that there is a general concern on this matter. We organized various meetings with the “Mossos d’Esquadra” in order to raise the families’ awareness on the importance of monitoring the “digital” day to day activities of minors.
Due to the importance of the topic and the great impact this kind of activity had on the students and their families, the school held a conference on “Safe Internet” on the 30th of September 2016 for families. During the conference, the police (Mossos d’Esquadra) launched a debate: We don’t let our children shop alone, but nevertheless we don’t have a problem with leaving them with a mobile device for two hours. This phrase caused quite an impact on many families.
5) How does this eTwinning project promote digital citizenship? Which are the platform’s spaces or tools that contribute in a more effective way to educate on digital citizenship? Is this topic addressed differently in the partner countries with respect to Spain? What differences or similarities are there?
The eTwinning project promotes the idea of taking into consideration everything related to the digital world and that we tend to address superficially from the different areas of influence; we have to address all the aspects involved in the digital world in a more accurate way in order to try to minimize bad habits and bad experiences related to them. We have to see to developing this world by working with ICT tools, by sharing and assessing experiences in a direct way. This case is just a small part of what the broad concept of digital citizenship means.
We think that all the resources that the TwinSpace has to offer, such as videoconferencing, chat, and collaborative drawing, among other resources, help us grow from a digital perspective due to the fact that these are complex tools which seem easy to use in this context and which are available for all the project partners. On the other hand, we very much appreciate the assignment tool for the persons involved in the project. As a teacher, I can allow students to visit the platform and enable them to make comments and provide input. There are various ways to monitor students that are involved in a given project.
All the countries involved in the project tried to coordinate and manage the project in a similar way taking into account the privacy of the children. Also, we presented the different tasks using a wide range of tools.
6) How did their families contribute to educating these students in being active citizens? On a scale from 1 to 10, what grade do these families have in terms of the “digital citizenship grade”? Did they receive any training on this issue?
The families were involved in the project to the extent to which we needed them; they were involved in some activities. It should be noted that they are doing great work educating their children to become digital citizens.
It is a fact that families use new technologies more and more to communicate and this makes them understand the need to control this world that surrounds their children. Thanks to their work together with the school’s work, we can succeed in making the girls and boys from our school become responsible digital citizens.
Each family have their own particular training; all of us have certain knowledge on the topic thanks to experience, colleagues’ stories, etc. The school offers at least one conference related to the digital world and to the issue of “safe Internet”. We believe that this helps the families become aware of the world we live in and the dangers that we face.
The family involvement was excellent. They were very cooperative every time we asked for their support and involvement. Their major task entailed talking to their children at home so as to make them aware of the dangers they face and educate their children to become digital citizens.
7) Did the students’ perception change after doing the project/activities on Rules of online behaviour?
From the school’s perspective, we believe that our students’ knowledge on the issue of the rules of online behavior before being involved in this project is different from their present knowledge on the topic; they know more today. Nevertheless, we cannot stop working on a topic as important as this one. There are always new ideas, contents, and experiences that it’s important for us to share with them and explain to them. Step by step, they should discuss the importance of keeping an eye on everything we write, upload and publish on the Internet.
We shouldn’t only address the safety issue; we should also reflect on the way we communicate using the different devices that technology provides us with.
Looking at the mobile phone communication (some of the students already use mobile phones), the students pointed out that they use abbreviations because it helps them to communicate faster and their classmates understand the message. Nevertheless, this practice has consequences on their ability of writing texts. After talking with them about this topic, the students know more about when to use abbreviations and when to avoid them. Abbreviations are not adequate to use in all contexts.
They have also become more aware of the responsibility of downloading contents (most of them download apps for their mobile phones or tablets, but not music). Some of the students mentioned that their brothers or cousins download music without taking into account its authors. After addressing the issue, some of the students remarked that they would bear in mind the dos and don’ts while others said they would explain the situation to the people that do download this type of contents.
With regards to their rights over their own publications, although the students were very young (8 – 9 years old), they did admit to sometimes uploading to social networks photos that are a little suggestive that they probably shouldn’t upload. They know that these contents transcend borders and to them it doesn’t matter if they upload a suggestive photo or not, or if their profile is public or private. These were some of the things the students mentioned.
Lastly, with respect to ergonomics, we addressed this issue at length in the classroom. It is very important to have a correct body posture when working with a digital device. If we don’t pay attention to this aspect, it could damage our health. At the beginning, the teacher had to keep reminding the students that they should maintain a correct posture; however, as the school year progressed, the students started to correct each other’s postures and we eventually achieved in adopting a correct body posture and taking the breaks we had agreed upon.
8) What impact did the project have on the teaching staff? Is there a greater awareness about online behaviour? Have extra precautions been taken? What kind of precautions? Have bad behaviours been corrected? Have new protocols been established? Has the furniture arrangement in the IT classroom been changed?
I think it had a great impact on the teaching staff as all of the teachers showed interest in the topic and emphasized the need to keep on training the students and informing the parents and teachers on this issue. The school works hard on raising awareness about the new digital environment we live in.
In order to achieve this, we take different measures. Our school only includes Primary education and some of our students are still very young and don’t have emails. Only upper education students are provided with an institutional email which enables them to work on the school platform which is monitored by the teachers.
As I said several times in various previous paragraphs, the school gives much importance to the training of families and students and promotes lectures and round table discussions to talk about this issue.
We tried to correct bad practices related to the topic provided these can be controlled in school; when these bad practices take place outside school, we talked to the families and also tried to agree on how to deal with the situation. As a consequence of our involvement in the project and after considering different experiences, we changed a few things, such as: we moved the computers in the IT room to one side so that the teacher can monitor everything the children do and correct or congratulate them when appropriate.
9) Other featured comments on the project that are related with the topic
I wish to highlight the involvement of most of the project partners and the excellent understanding that existed between us at all times. This has lead to a very good project implementation in which we adapted the activities when necessary by mutual agreement.